Taking Social Media to 'New Heights'

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If you follow the “911 crowd” on Twitter you can’t help but notice @YRP, the official Twitter handle for the York Regional Police in Ontario Canada, providing updates and information on activities, investigations, events and general safety tips.

This morning while scanning the Twitter-verse for a story concept for this week’s blog, I noticed Tweet after Tweet from @YRP that contained the hashtag #yrpnights. But what caught my eye, was the fact that these Twitter posts didn’t originate from the ground. That’s right, York Regional Police added social media to AIR2, their sleek 200k/ph Eurocopter EC120B tactical airborne platform, known to you and I as a “police chopper”.

For quite some time now I’ve been a fan of @YRP, and there extensive use of social media to reach out to the public. Adding social media to AIR2, was probably just the next logical step that this department is taking to communicate with the public, and is a fantastic example of how Public Safety needs to reach out to the community using the modes of communication most comfortable with that community.

Obviously, taking to Twitter, will target communications at a wide community including our younger generation, but it will also reach a wide community who may not be active contributors on Twitter, but monitor various activities in real time on tablets and smartphones.

The more progressive governments have learned that community interaction goes far beyond their web presence, their Facebook page, and even their Public Information Office staff. The tools already exist to monitor and interact with communities, but there is no reason why that level of interaction needs to remain within the brick-and-mortar infrastructure. Today’s culture has become immediate in nature and demands real-time information and updates on just about anything from emergency situations too large public events.

Sending live tweets from the helicopter crew provides a “virtual ride along” that would be almost impossible to re-create without the involvement of a camera crew, and the postproduction editing. All of that equals time spent producing, and not delivering content. Right now, by following @YRP and #YRPNights, you’ll find a series of updates on what’s happening around York, and you’ll even catch some great night and day photography from their vantage point high above the city as well as the occasional infrared FLIR image.

FLIR_Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 1.08.25 AM.pngThis infrared technology detects differences in heat on the nearest surface to the camera. For example if a person is walking across the field the person would be displayed as high, as they are admitting greater amounts of heat than the field there walking on. One common myth is that helicopters and FLIR technology can see through windows into your home. This simply isn’t true because glass is a reflective surface to infrared technology, and a person walking outside your window can see better into your home than the helicopter possibly could. Still this is a common question and included on their Frequently Asked Questions page located at http://www.yrp.ca/airfaq.aspx

I’ll continue to follow @YRP, and we’ll see if we can summarize the success of this program of reaching down from above with Social Media.

The Avaya Podcast Network launched a new landing page this week at http://Avaya.com/APN. It will be a one stop location for all APN content including the events that we attend, as well as our regular social media series including E911 Talk, Today in Public Safety, and Avaya Tech Talk with Guy Clinch (@GClinch).

If you’re attending the IAUG Converge 2013 Conference at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando Florida on June 3 – 7, be sure to stop by booth number 337 and visit. In addition to myself and Guy, APN producer and LatAm correspondent Guadalupe Hugony (@GuadalupeHugony) will be on hand producing interviews directly from the show room floor in both English and Spanish.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading the Avaya CONNECTED Blog on E9-1-1, I value your opinions, so please feel free to comment below or if you prefer, you can email me privately.

Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted 😉
Until next week. . . dial carefully.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Fletch911


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Another Developer's Experience with Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment

Earlier this week, I wrote about leading communications software maker Esna Technologies and their positive experience porting their popular OfficeLinx application to Avaya using our just-announced Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment.
For Esna, Avaya Aura CE saved them development time, allowed them to build a simpler app, and opened up huge new markets for them.
That harmonizes with independent communications analyst Sheila McGee-Smith’s assessment:
 mcgee smith tweet.jpg
Avaya CEO’s Kevin Kennedy likens Avaya Aura CE to WebSphere from IBM and WebLogic from BEA (now Oracle). These Web application servers were absolutely crucial to accelerating the creation of e-commerce sites and jumpstarting the whole dot-com economy. 
I personally see parallels between Avaya Aura CE and SAP’s Mobility Platform, a popular mobile middleware that enables developers to write apps faster and for multiple operating systems (i.e. iOS, Android, Windows) at the same time.
Esna wasn’t the only ISV I spoke with. I also had a chance to interview Jeff Thompson, CEO of UserEvents Inc., a New Brunswick, Canada startup, about Avaya Aura CE.
jeff thompson ceo-001.JPG
UserEvents’ flagship application, called CxEngage, enables organization to deliver consistent, exceptional customer experiences by monitoring customer journeys in real-time, across all touchpoints. Blending big data analytics with customer experience management, CxEngage gives organizations the ability to engage in the moment with a phone call, email or SMS. It’s a potent combination that Thompson wanted to bring to the Avaya Aura contact center user base, the largest in the market according to various analysts.
“I deliberately assigned a small team of developers that had no SIP or Avaya experience to integrate CxEngage with Avaya Aura,” he told me during an interview at IAUG’s Converge 2013 conference in Orlando this week. 
Their lack of experience was not surprising. Most of UserEvents’ developers are Generation Y Millennials who didn’t grow up in an Avaya or Nortel era. Your classic Silicon Valley hoodie-wearing developer more comfortable developing applications in Clojure, a Java-based language designed for high performance applications like CxEngage, than the complexities of SIP.
Despite their lack of familiarity with the platform, “Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment allowed them to build a Proof of Concept in just 4 full programmer-days,” Thompson said.
Was that because UserEvents’ developers are really, really bright? Perhaps, though Thompson also credits the platform. “Collaboration Environment masks a lot of complexity by providing us an efficient interface that we can snap into so that we can enjoy the richness of what’s powered by the Aura stack,” he said.
Aura CE is also powerful. “It gave us access to a lot of rich communication capabilities while minimizing the number of developers and their time needed,” Thompson said.
I put the same question to Thompson and his team as I did to Esna’s Petralama: what do you think about WebRTC? Their answers were similar.
“We’ve started to look at WebRTC,” he said. “The challenge is that it’s relatively new.” As a result, most of CxEngage would-be clients, the large Fortune 500s, who are unlikely to abandon current communication and contact center applications overnight. 
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